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Stemcells inc Reports Breakthrough Using Human Neural Stem Cells to Restore Motor Function in Chronic Spinal Cord Injury

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StemCells Inc. has announced the publication of new preclinical data demonstrating that the Company’s proprietary human neural stem cells restore lost motor function in mice with chronic spinal cord injury.

This is the first published study to show that human neural stem cells can restore mobility even when administered at time points beyond the acute phase of trauma, suggesting the prospect of treating a much broader population of injured patients than previously demonstrated.

This study, entitled “Human Neural Stem Cells Differentiate and Promote Locomotor Recovery in an Early Chronic Spinal Cord Injury NOD-scid Mouse Model,” was led by Dr. Aileen Anderson of the Sue and Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). The paper was published in the international peer-reviewed journal PLoS ONE, and is available online at http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0012272.

In this latest study, StemCells’ human neural stem cells were transplanted into mice 30 days after a spinal cord injury that results in hind limb paralysis. The transplanted mice demonstrated a significant and persistent recovery of walking ability in two separate tests of motor function when compared to control groups. These results are particularly significant because it is the first time that human neural stem cells have been shown to promote functional recovery in a chronic spinal cord injury setting, which is characterized as a point in time after injury in which inflammation has stabilized and behavioral recovery has reached a plateau. In humans, the chronic phase typically does not set in until several weeks or months following the injury.

“These exciting results demonstrate an expanded window of opportunity for human neural stem cell intervention in spinal cord injury,” stated Stephen Huhn, MD, FACS, FAAP, Vice President and Head of the CNS Program at StemCells, Inc. “1.3 million individuals in the U.S. are living with chronic spinal cord injury, and this latest study provides additional evidence that the use of our human neural stem cells may be a viable treatment approach for them. The strong preclinical data we have accumulated to date will enable our transition to a clinical trial, which we plan to initiate in 2011.”

Aileen Anderson, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Departments of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and Anatomy and Neurobiology at UCI, added, “Human neural stem cells are a novel therapeutic approach that holds much promise for spinal cord injury. However, published research to date has generally focused on the acute and sub-acute phases.

As part of our long-standing collaboration with StemCells, we have pursued a thoughtful and deliberate research strategy to establish the groundwork necessary to advance this cell-based approach into the clinic. This latest study builds on the extensive work we had previously published in the sub-acute phase of injury, and offers additional hope to those who are paralyzed or have impaired motor function.”